Sunday, May 31, 2009

Book Review: Germ

“If you breathe, it will find you”.

Robert Liparulo’s sophomore novel “Germ” grabs your attention from Chapter One. The non-stop action begins by a statement of facts regarding Dr. Robert Guthrie, a microbiologist, and his development of the Guthrie Test, a medical test performed on newborn infants to detect an inborn error of amino acid metabolism.

Deduction is made of how such technology, in association with gene splicing and in the wrong hands, could selectively target and attack a particular DNA gene in the general population rending  a person dead in a matter of days.

Details of the end result of such a virus on humans are graphically described. This is not a novel for the weak at heart. It is intense in its plot, in its characters, and almost non-stop action scenes.

That being said and for those who enjoy an action packed Thriller, this novel of DNA-specific biochemical warfare will take your breathe and not release it until you finish the last page.

Good and evil are presented with equal clarity.

FBI Agents Goodwin Donelley and Julia Matheson, the protagonist, are depicted genuinely, with a sincere, deep friendship.

Dr. Allen Parker and his brother Stephen Parker (almost Doctor turned Pastor) are unsuspecting participants but add much to the story.

Karl Litt, the antagonist, the son of a Nazi researcher, is diabolical and utterly without remorse.

With unexpected twists and turns and several complex story lines, true to the genre, this work kept me in ’suspense’ wondering how all elements would merge to a  conclusion. I was not disappointed as the story line ended.

This novel will surprise you as you become acquainted with characters only to learn they do not survive. Not all suspense novels can make such a claim.  Unanticipated ends to major characters adds greatly to the development of those characters that remain as well as the plot.

Germ is a Christian Fiction novel.  It is entertainment and does not resort to profanity or vulgarity. Great novels rarely do.  It takes much more creativity to produce a work that captures the reader with the plot, the characters, and interaction alone.

I recommend this book highly and look forward to more of Robert Liparulo’s work.

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785261788
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785261780

Saturday, May 30, 2009


Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. New York: Scholastic, 2003.

You have to admire Melinda. From day one of school she is harrassed and hated. She storms through the first marking period of high school, gnashing her teeth and muttering to herself. She has no friends and is openly tormented by everyone from peers to parents. Melinda has a secret that not only eats away at her little at a time, but by the end of the third marking period, steals away her voice until she is practically mute. While she puts on a good act of wit and sarcastic humor on the outside, inside she is a girl trapped by confusion and fear. As her grades plummet and her family life slowly falls apart, Melinda struggles to keep her sanity. Speak took me only a few hours to read. Anderson does an amazing job capturing the voice of a tormented teen. She portrays the relationships every young adult has to endure: teachers, principals, parents, ex-best friends…with such honesty I found myself cringing…

Favorite funny parts: “Our boys are unbeatable as long as they are the only team on the floor” (p 76). “We are reading The Scarlet Letter one sentence at a time, tearing it up and chewing on its bones” (p 100). And one sad line: “I stuff my mouth with old fabric and scream until there are no soulds left under my skin” (p 162).

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter “Best for Teens” (p 23).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Miss Erin gifted me with a book recently, a collection of short stories by South American writer Francisco Coloane, Tierra Del Fuego. We were browsing at the Crapters the other day and Miss Erin playfully hid a book behind her back and turned to me, “You’re going to hate me for showing you this.” [ Reason being that we both should not purchase books for one because we have so much already to read and the second because we cannot afford it. ] She shows me the back of the book where the following is written:

Long arms, arms like rivers, are necessary to fully embrace Francisco Coloane. Or perhaps it’s necessary to be a squall of wind, gusting over him beard and all. Otherwise, take a seat across the table from him and analyze the question, study him deeply; you will surely end by drinking a bottle of wine with Francisco and happily postponing the matter to some later date. – Pablo Neruda

Now I don’t know about you but I tend to trust authors implicitly. Authors I enjoy who recommend other authors or mention authors that have influenced their own writings become mandatory reading for me. I have discovered so many wonderful authors as a result of writers who mention other writers or works that they find fascinating for one reason or another. I think that one of my favorite discoveries was through Graham Greene who recommended Patricia Highsmith’s collection of short stories as he wrote of her: “Highsmith is a poet of apprehension.” I recently wrote a paper on Patricia Highsmith and my relationship with Erin began with Patricia, so I owe Graham quite a bit.

So feel free to share stories or commentaries on authors you’ve discovered through blurbs. I think that for the most part, authors usually have a good sense of what is good literature and what is great. Here’s hoping Pablo, if your taste in literature is anything close to your style of writing and poetry, I nothing but good times ahead of me. Cheers.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cover story in Solander

This piece appeared as the cover story for the latest issue of Solander.

More than a Matter of Words: Lucinda Byatt looks at four Italian historical novels in translation

I’ve included the full article on a separate page (click to read it here)

Just to whet your appetite, the novels I’ve chosen are The Leopard,  The Name of the Rose, The Silent Duchess and Imprimatur.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mortal Instruments 1: City of Bones - Cassandra Clare

So, when I first picked up City of Bones on my lunch break I was just looking for something to do. I got 25 pages in on the 1st day.. and wasn’t overly impressed. The next lunch break I tried again, and made it to page 53, and then it started to get interesting…

I wouldn’t say hooked. And I was still kind of disappointed. When Jase and Clary first met I though, and hoped, it would be a lovely whirlwind love story similar to Twilight. But to no avail. 

Have you ever read J.R Ward? Because The Mortal Instruments trilogy needs a dictionary in the front to refer back to, much like the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

I cant give too much away as it is a series, not a one off, and I don’t want to ruin the series for anyone because of my spoilers.

Clary Fray lives in a 2nd level apartment with her mother, Jocylen Fray. Things start to get a little strange after her mother tells her she is taking her away for the summer to a farm house out on the country, but like every 15 year old girl, she doesn’t want to leave her friends behind for so long.

After a blow out with her mum, Clary stalks off with the long time devoted friend, Simon,  and they head to Pandaemonium for the under 18’s club. Clary starts seeing things, and it appears that she is the only one who can… After witnessing a cold blooded murder then the victim vanished into thin air, going home to her mothers house to find the placed trashed and her mother gone, things are a bit off. The murders start following her…

After meeting alot of new people and seeing alot of strange things, clary ends up staying at the Institution (its not as bad as it sounds) and learning alot of things about her mum that she was never aware.

So why is it called The Mortal Instruments trilogy…? Because there are 3 instruments, one in each book that holds a great power (think Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone). Clary needs to find the Cup to find her mother and get her released from the evil Valentine, who believes that all mixed bloods should be killed or turned into more Shadowhunters, and with the help of the cup his rule is within reach.

I was a bit disappointed by the predictability of the book, but I stuck at it, and it was still mildly interesting.. or perhaps it was more fulfilling…  Holly Blacks “Funny, dark & sexy” quote printed on the cover isn’t really correct. Though the fast paced plot and the readers’ constant need to remember what Shadow Hunters, Downworlders, the Circle, Mundanes,  etc etc.

Just brought the second one anyway, City of Ashes, because Im a sucker and I so very rarely leave a series unfinished. Plus I like the covers.

I wouldn’t reccomend anyone read it who is over the age of 20.. i would say about 14-16 would be the perfect age for this book. 

Keep you posted!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Book Review: The Night Watchman

Title:  The Night Watchman

Author:  Mark Mynheir

Publisher’s Blurb: Eleven months ago, Ray Quinn was a tough, quick-witted Orlando homicide detective at the top of his game–until a barrage of bullets ended his career…and his partner’s life.

Now medically retired with a painful handicap, Ray battles the haunting guilt for his partner’s death. Numbing the pain with alcohol and attitude, Ray takes a job as a night watchman at a swanky Orlando condo.

But when a pastor and an exotic dancer are found dead in one of the condos in an apparent murder-suicide, Ray can no longer linger in the shadows. The pastor’s sister is convinced her brother was framed and begs Ray to take on an impossible case–to challenge the evidence and clear her brother’s name.

Ray reluctantly pulls the threads of this supposedly dead-end case only to unravel a murder investigation so deep that it threatens to turn the Orlando political landscape upside down and transform old friends into new enemies. As Ray chases down leads and interrogates suspects, someone is watching his every move, someone determined to keep him from ever finding out the truth–at any cost.

I included the publisher’s blurb in this one because I think it is actually a fairly accurate one.  Often they leave you wondering if you read the same book but this one is pretty much dead-on.  It’s not exactly how I would have written it, but that probably means we now know why I am not hired to write publisher’s blurbs don’t we? 

First of all, I’d like to confess that I don’t usually like books written in the first person.  Generally I find them annoying.  Even worse, they’re usually the worst written books I’ve seen so when I started reading and realized, oh joy, here’s another first person story, I was dismayed.

But not for long.  Within the first five pages I was interested.  I could still put it down and do other things at that point but by page thirty, I gave up.  I had to read.  Must. Not. Stop.  It was a fascinating book, full of the lovely technical details I adore, and with a realistic plot line.  The characters were amazingly well-developed and intriguing.  I can’t wait to read more by Mynheir and there’d better be a sequel.

If I have left you with any doubt as to why you should read this, I’ll add a little tidbit.  My husband Kevin doesn’t read.  It isn’t that he doesn’t like it but that he rarely makes the time because there’s little that interests him.  I handed him the book and nagged strongly encouraged him to read it.   In three evenings, it was done.  He’d come home, grab the book, and disappear into our room to read until forced out by dinner, eager children, or other such interruptions.  Get the book.  Read it.  You won’t be sorry.

And… because Multnomah is such a generous company…  I have a free copy to give away.  Sorry guys… I’m keeping mine.  I tried to be selfless but I just can’t do it.  Mine.

Project 17 by Laurie Faria Stolarz

High atop Hathorne Hill, near Boston, sits Danvers State Hospital. Built in 1878 and closed in 1992, this abandoned mental institution is rumored to be the birthplace of the lobotomy. Locals have long believed the place to be haunted. They tell stories about the unmarked graves in the back, of the cold spots felt throughout the underground tunnels, and of the treasures found inside: patients’ personal items like journals, hair combs, and bars of soap, or even their old medical records, left behind by the state for trespassers to view.

On the eve of the hospital’s demolition, six teens break in to spend the night and film a movie about their adventures. For Derik, it’s an opportunity to win a filmmaking contest and save himself from a future of flipping burgers at his parents’ diner. For the others, it’s a chance to be on TV, or a night with no parents. But what starts as a playful dare quickly escalates into a frenzy of nightmarish action. Behind the crumbling walls, down every dark passageway, and in each deserted room, they will unravel the mysteries of those who once lived there and the spirits who still might.

I was really excited to read this book and it did not disappoint! I loved it! I gave Deadly Little Secrets an average score when I read it last year but Project 17 gets 9/10! Unlike Deadly Little Secrets, Project 17 is not predictable at all. You have no idea what to expect. And there’s a mystery too. The book is set in Danvers State Hospital, a real place located in Danvers, MA. That is something I love about this book. It’s set in a real place! The book started slowly and it wasn’t till page 65 when they enter the asylum. But once they are in, it’s I think I am going to talk about my feelings of each character individually. Here we go..

Derik: I like reading about him the most. I like his character and since the story is mainly focusing on him, I like him the most.

Liza: She’s the studious girl with good grades and all but can’t get into the school she wants. I like her but she started creeping me out whenever she said “we shouldn’t be here.”

Mimi: Mimi is a very interesting person. I always looked forward to reading her chapters.

Chet: Not much to comment about. His a typical prankster/joker.

Greta and Tony: Greta reminds me of Sharpay Evans. The spoiled and snobbish drama queen. And Tony is just like her sidekick/boyfriend. Found them both very annoying. Greta totally freaked me out when she tried to get into character and find the doll. I was wondering if she got possessed or something. Freaky!

Each chapter is told by different people but it was not confusing. I read Project 17 at night and it totally spooked me. I didn’t dare to go to the bathroom because I am a scaredy cat. In my mind, I could totally see Project 17 as a movie. It would be AWESOME if there was a movie of the book. Back to the review, the deeper you get into the story, the scarier things become. Everyone starts to lose their mind at one point or another.

There are unanswered questions too, like the talking doll, the bathroom message, etc. My own conclusion would be that they just belong to the ghosts who live there. If anyone else has read this book, I’d love to discuss it with you!

Overall Project 17 is a fantastic suspenseful horror novel that sends chills down your spine. I highly recommend it. Fans of horror books, you have to READ THIS BOOK! If you can’t stand psychological books, I don’t suggest you reading this because this book is very intense. Imagine if you were reading this book and suddenly the door slammed. Guaranteed that you will jump out of your seat. Laurie Stolarz writes exceptional horror stories and I look forward to her future horror books.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Book You'll Actually Read On Church Leadership

Well, its book review time. I know my book reviews have been few and far between recently. I have three excuses. One, my reading has slowed down, but is quickly picking back up again. Two, I’ve been reading still but have been to spread out book wise and haven’t finished much, I’m finishing those now. Thirdly, I just haven’t gotten around to actually blog the books I have read. Phew, now I feel vindicated.

Now onto the meat. This little vignette of a book is by Pastor Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle. Now the problem with blogging about Driscoll is that most people already have an opinion. Some people don’t like him, other people love him. I generally fall in that second group. This book is about church leadership and the roles of elders, deacons, men, women, etc.

Driscoll does a great job of laying out the three main views, Egalitarian, Complementarian and Hierarchical. If you don’t know, Egalitarian is the liberal view meaning men and women are partners together in ministry and all offices are open to men and women. Gender is not relevant in teaching or authority positions. Complementarian is the moderate view and means that men and women are partners. All ministries in the church are open to all qualified people with the exception of the office of elder. Hierarchical is the conservative view and means that women are not permitted to do much of anything except teach children and other women.

I appreciate this book because he shows the three main views and of course tells you his opinion, he’s Driscoll, what else would you expect? He is a complementarian and does a fantastic job of defending that view. This is also where I land in this argument if you are wondering. I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in reading a short book about church leadership and the roles of men and women in the church.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

<em>Grave Goods</em> by Ariana Franklin

This is the third book in this medieval mystery series (the first ones being Mistress of the Art of Death and The Serpent’s Tale); but while I enjoyed reading it, it is not quite the equal of the other two books, possibly because it ends with an eye towards yet another book. However, it does have a good bit of medieval Crime Scene Investigation in it, plus tunnels and lepers, so it’s still a great read.

It is the Year of our Lord 1176, with King Henry II of England fighting Welsh rebels whose battle cry is “King Arthur Lives!”; he hears of a rumor that a dying monk in 1154 saw a vision of Arthur being buried in the graveyard of the abbey of Glastonbury. Two skeletons were promptly dug up by order of the King, but King Henry would like to prove that the skeletons are indeed those of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, or at least prove that they do not belong to someone else, so that he can deprive the Welsh rebels of their mythical king

Therefore, the King calls once again upon the services of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, Salerno-born expert in causes of death, who is sent with her entourage (her Arab eunuch and protector Mansur (who is the nominal ‘Doctor’ in her investigations, while she acts as his interpreter), her longtime friend and servant Glytha, and her child, four-year-old Allie) to Glastonbury to investigate the skeletons. Along the way, Adelia travels with Emma, a friend of hers from the previous book (The Serpent’s Tale); but on her arrival in Glastonbury, she finds that Emma and her group, who were due to arrive before her, apparently never arrived at all. Adelia is thus investigating the skeletons found in Glastonbury (which is a ruin, the abbey and town having burnt to the ground the previous month), and the disappearance of her friend. She is assisted in these investigations by the Bishop of St. Albans, who is in the area, and with whom Adelia has had some rather intimate dealings in the past.

There is also murder most foul in this book, and swords, and tunnels, and those lepers; but I felt that the story was not as well put together as it could have been; from a purely subjective standpoint, I had guessed one of the plot elements rather earlier than I should have, given my usual level of denseness and the level of writing that I have come to expect from this author. However, with presumably another book in the pipeline. perhaps the author can return to her previous stellar quality.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Book Review: 50 Ways to Find A Lover by Lucy-Anne Holmes

Sarah Sargeant has been single for a while, and its beginning to worry everyone, even her mum and dad. So Sarah decides to embarke on a challenge to find 50 Ways to Find A Lover.

With the help of her best friend Julia and flatmate Simon, she goes speed dating, blind dating and various other disastrous ways to find a man, all with no luck. Sarah feels she is destined to spend her life alone, but is that about to change with the arrival of suave Paul?

But as well as finding herself a man, Sarah’s obssesed with updating her blog about her dating escapades, but is her online life becoming more important than her day-to-day one?

As usual, I was totally oblivious that it was based on the author’s real life blog about her attempts to find a man, albeit a fictional account of this blog. The names of the other characters stay the same (Julia, Simon and Paul) although some roles are switched around, and of course the main character name is different as well. I haven’t actually bothered to go and read the blog after reading the book because I loved the book so much, I didn’t want it spoiling my image of that by changing my perceptions of it. I imagine those that have loved the blog with love the book, but its good to know you can still enjoy it even if you don’t know the origins of the story!

I found that the characters were all really likeable and believable, and consequently I enjoyed the book that little bit more. It started off with Sarah’s narration in the first person, and carries on that way throughout the book, aside from the odd parts taken from Sarah’s fictional blog which always made me chuckle as I read along. Sarah’s narration is easy to like and read, and seems like you are hearing a friend speak which always bodes well for an enjoyable book. The other characters in the book were also great too. My favourite with a doubt was the flatmate Simon – hilarious and I laughed out loud so much at him, my other half did give me some strange looks! Julia was funny also, but not my sort of person, and Paul wasn’t someone I liked but again was good for the story.

It does sound like a bit of a mad storyline – a woman trying out 50 different ways of finding her one love, but the book does try well to make it believable and exploring a few different ways too. I was expecting all 50 to be covered, so was a tad disappointed when they weren’t – nowhere near in fact but it didn’t really spoil it too much that that didn’t materialise. The book did take a few twists and turns along the way, but whatever happened seemed to do so in the context of the book and didn’t seem out of place. It was almost like a diary of a real person, and definitely had hints of being based on the author’s real life and there were times I could tell it really was based on someone’s real blog.

If you love chick-lit, then you will definitely love this book. It’s a fun, light-hearted look at the world of dating in the modern age, and an insight into blogging as well for those of us not in the know! With great characters, a lot of laugh out loud humour, it has all the things that make a great read and I was so disappointed to turn the last page as it just seemed to whizz by far too quickly! I hope that the author will continue following the characters because they were so great I want to know more about what they get up to! A quick word of warning though – if you don’t like frequent use of the f-word and c-word, this book probably isn’t for you, but I tended just to ignores those bits! A fab read, perfect for the summer hols!

Rating: 5/5

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Overlook is a crime novel by none other than Michael Connelly. This is another Harry Bosch novel where the protagonist’s doubtful past and questionable reputation bring the story to another level. Detective Bosch from the LAPD’s Homicide Special squad is called in to investigate the murder of a doctor who handled a radioactive substance called cesium. The cesium is missing which causes a terrorist threat to spread across the city.

Connelly continues to depict the realistic tension between the LAPD and the FBI as the matter at hand switches from being a local homicide to being a threat to national security. On top of that, he must settle his differences with FBI agent Rachel Walling who was previously featured in Echo Park. Bosch’s undying cynicism and habit to steer away from protocol keeps the pace of the book going and hooks readers from start to finish. The twists and turns of the investigation lead to a climactic but satisfying end with room for the next Bosch novel. The Overlook may appear to be shorter than most of Connelly’s other works, but he does not disappoint. The book makes for a relatively quick and easy read with all the evidence unconventionally glued back together by the end, despite the final body count.

I enjoyed reading this book because I felt I was in the middle of the investigation while the characters seemed real with their own personality and edge from previous books. A newer character grabbed my attention at times in the book and I sincerely hope he will appear again in Bosch’s next thrilling investigation.

If you are planning on reading The Overlook, the paperback version has bonus content.

The hardcover is available as a bargain book at – The Bambi Review

Friday, May 15, 2009

Book Review: The Faith by Chuck Colson and Harold Fickett

The Faith: What Christians Believe, Why they Believe it, and Why it Matters. Charles Colson and Harold Fickett, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 2008), 240 Pages.

It has been a while since I published a review of books I have read, so I thought I would share a short overview and some quick thoughts today.

Colson and Fickett offer an interesting read that serves as a good introduction to some of the basic beliefs of all Christians. There is not a “slant” toward any particular subset of Christianity; rather, the point is to discuss the main points of Orthodox Theology (beliefs about God) that are shared by all Christian faith. This is not a book that will inform theologians since it is a survey/ introduction of Orthodox beliefs.

To build the case of why to study these beliefs, Colson spends some time discussing cultural observations and making some assessments about the church. He explains why it is important for Christians to understand what they believe and why they believe it. Further, he interweaves stories of Christian history as they relate to the articulation of these beliefs, or how great figures in Christian history dealt with these beliefs.

In essence, this book serves as a balance between “doctrine” (beliefs) and “apologetic” (defending ones beliefs).

Being a student of theology, I was a bit skeptical about reading a book on Christian doctrine that took no particular stand on particular church traditions. Having read many wise men who break down the minute details of difference between Christian sects, I thought that this would serve as more of an “aggravation” of sorts…causing me to write a scathing review of compromise. I was wrong. The substance of the doctrines considered in this book were handled well and, if learned and understood, serve as the basis of conversation…not only with those outside of the Christian faith, but with those within the Christian faith. Knowing the stories of how some different church traditions arose serves to encourage Christians to look for common ground first, then discuss distinctives as necessary.

The book encourages the reader to understand and celebrate Orthodoxy. In a culture today where everything is questioned and popular opinion holds the beliefs of the individual as greater than the beliefs of the collective throughout the ages, this book is a call to embrace Orthodoxy as good. As a wise older man from Mississippi once said to a teenager, “just because it is an old idea doesn’t make it a wrong idea.”

I recommend the book as a great read for those who have grown up in church but have not discovered “why” they believe as they do. I also recommend it to those who are looking skeptically at Christianity from the outside as though it were equivalent to every other religious proposition in the world. Both would gain from the read. Finally, I recommend it to those in academic circles who find themselves drawn to debate the minutiae, rather than focusing on the big picture. This read will help some of these guys “come up for air” and re-engage in the cultural conversation in a relatable way.

Here is a link to the book and resources available at Amazon. There is also a “small group discussion curriculum which looks like it may be helpful as a discussion primer for a group study. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Book Review: This is your Brain on Joy

Thanks to the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger’s program I got a copy of Dr. Earl Henslin’s This is your Brain on Joy:A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nuturing Spirituality (Thomas Nelson, 2009) and I am quite glad I did!  This is a really interesting book to read. 

The basic premise is that the healthier your brain is, the healthier you are and the less healthy your brain is, the less healthy you are, especially in regards to one’s emotional, mental and spiritual health.  These are connected because whereas stronger brain health allows for stronger mental, emotional, and spiritual (and realtional) health, weaker brain health leads to a significant breakdown in one’s mental, emotional, and spiritual (and relational) health.  The health and state of your brain has direct correlations with the health of the rest of your person. 

One blurb is:  [I've editied this with brackets [ ] to clarify some points for this review].

In this book, Dr. Henslin couples recent scientific studies [about brain health] with findings from his own clinical practice [counseling], [that allows him to] offer specific therapies [nutritional, supplemental, medicinal (if needed)] for specific problems [each area of the brain that is having a problem can be treated in a specific way to bring it back to health].  Most doctors and therapists have only a broad based approach, but This is your Brain on Joy [reveals that] what [often thought to be some emotional, mental or physical problem] is likely a brain problem for many who suffer from various spiritual, relational, emotional, and physical aliments, includding addictions, ADD/ADHD, eating disorders, and or phobias. 

What makes this so interesting is that we can now realize that what might often be confused as demon posession/oppression, spiritual laziness/apathy/lethargy, lack of ability to focus, social awkwardness, just plain stupid, etc, may actually be a simple problem a malnutritioned brain. 

Here’s how it works.  If you picture your brain like a house of sorts, the brain is sectioned in types of rooms and each section has it’s own unique function that when all are healthy and balanced allow for overall brain health, which in turn allows for a strong sense of overall wellbeing in those people with healthy brains. 

So, for example, the pre-frontal cortex (that’s the front part of your brain) is in two parts, the happy side (left) and the ruminating side (less happy)(right).  Those with less activity on the left side are the more melancholy folks we meet in life.  The Eyores and Puddleglums.  While they may be thoughtful and appreciative of things, they are not always happy people and can tend to seem moe negative, unlike the more “happy-go-lucky-like-to-laugh-a-lot-and-have-a-lot-of-fun” folks who have more activity on the left side of their pre-frontal cortext.   The thing of it is, while the left side folks are viewed as the more desireables in life, especially among the single ladies who want the spontaneous and fun boyfriend, both are in some degree unhealthy – there is need for a balance.  It reveals that no brain is perfect, no not one, each has there weaknesses. 

So how is the balance attained?  Well, before I get to that, the first five chapters of the book (the first section) Henslin discusses all these facets of how the brain works and how that is connected to a person’s overall sense of health and well-being.  He also offers various nutritional, supplemental, and if necessary, medicinal suggestions that can help a person attain the best brain balance possible. 

How do they do this?  How can they know what parts of the brain is/are having a problem?  This is where the science comes in.  Dr Henslin works with Dr. Daniel Amen, of the Amen Clinics.  Amen has developed a way to scan the outer and inner workings of the brain so as to determine where the least or most activity is going on, creating what are called SPECT (single photon emission computerized tomography) images.  With these images it can be inferred as to why a person is (for example) depressed, or showing ADD symptoms and the like.  The possible reason a person may be dealing with deep level depression is because the deep limbic system in the brain is too active.  The what?  The deep limbic system, that deep place in the brain, when too active, sparks feelings of sadness and despair, even hoplessness.  Decrease activity there and likely the person will be able to come out of his or her deep level depression.  Likely, that is with nutritional, supplemental, and (temproray) medicial help.  Combined with counseling and the person could be well on their way back to a normal life in not too long.   Well, it’s not a magic wand… but being sure a brain is well nurished is going to be key to a person’s overall health and well being. 

So, before you cast out that demon of depression, be sure this person lives on an healthy diet (right fats, right carbs, low sugar), has good supplements (especially a good dosage of Omega-3’s fats (fish oil) – everybody should be working to increase Omega-3 fats into their diets (i.e., high potency fish oil), everybody), and getting some exercise.  If after all this and some heavy duty counseling and the Holy Spirit’s leading among the counsel of several others, well, then, only then, might something deeper like a spiritual problem be considered. 

The second section, Dr Heslin talks about each area of the brain and things one can be doing to promote health inthat area to obtain an overall sense of health and well being.  At the end of each chapter he offers suggestions in the areas of supplements, nutrition (mood balancing foods), music, movies (you’d be surpised how movies can help a person’s mood, especially happy/fun ones – watching your favorite movie can be as good (and valuable) as spending time in prayer or Bible reading if needed – I know that sounds really unspiritual but it is true), exercise, reading, and of course some scriptures to consider and prayers to pray for the spiritually inclined.  This is how the balance can be achieved (or, at least, worked towards). 

So to reiterate what might often be confused as demon posession/oppression, spiritual laziness/apathy/lethargy, lack of ability to focus, social awkwardness, just plain stupid, etc, may actually be a simple problem of the brain.  And often this problem can be corrected with appropriate nutrition, supplements, and or meds, if needed, a solid exercise program and the like.

Get the brain book – think about it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is one of those classics. It is a book that you have to read at some stage in your life, you may not necessarily enjoy it, but it is important. I started reading it with some trepidation as I’d started and abandoned another of his books earlier this year. I actually managed to finish this book and was quite pleased about it, but I’m not sure I enjoyed it. It was quite challenging with some of it’s concepts, most especially as we live in a world where recycling is the norm and those who don’t are looked upon very strangely. Let me set the picture for you.

It’s set some time in the future where people are totally brainwashed. Recycling, even reusing, is something that just doesn’t happen. If you need clean clothes you just buy them. Things generally don’t get used more than once as buying creates jobs and that means more people are employed. People are conditioned from birth to believe that they shouldn’t lead solitary lives and they shouldn’t be monogamous. Actually, they’re conditioned with these ideas and many others from conception, while conception through to birth happens in a ‘test tube’.  People who somehow break out of this mold are looked upon as very strange.  The lead character had something happen to him in the ‘test tube’, he he got the wrong level of chemical and that lead to some ‘pecularities’ in his personality that didn’t mesh with society.  He tried to do things that were different and that lead to his demise.  This included a trip to another part of the world where things were more like they are today and the society there was considered backwards.

Things that didn’t sit well with me were the assumptions Huxley made about this society he created.  While I liked the idea that everyone was concerned about everyone else being employed I didn’t like the waste this created.  I recycle, reuse and reduce as much as possible and I found it really upset me to read of things being thrown out as they’d been used once.  I didn’t like the pack mentality this society had, everything had to be done together.  They had communal bathrooms, they talked about the people they, and others, had slept with as if it was the right thing to do, as if it was wrong to be with one person for more than a week.  The conditioning really worried me.  I don’t like being told what to do and this conditioning amounted to that.  They would listen to certain phrases a certain number of times while they slept to ensure they were conditioned to be like everyone else.  The phrases they listened to depended on where they were in the hierarchy which in turn depended on which chemical they were given before birth.  In other words, their caste was determined before their birth and they were conditioned to liking and enjoying this status.

This whole concept left me feeling very uncomfortable.  I know this book is tongue in cheek and is hitting out at the society Huxley lived in at the time, that’s the only saving grace of the whole book.  I strongly recommend this book even if you don’t normally read science fiction due to it’s discussion of society.  If you’ve already read this book I’d like to hear your comments about it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Review - Dragons Tarot

Several weeks ago I bought myself a new set of Tarot Cards as an early birthday present. I chose the Dragons Tarot. They were the ones I felt a connection to. I loved the artwork on the few that I had seen from this deck.

Here is the front of 3 of the cards.

Here is what the back of the cards looks like.

I am very impressed with these cards. The meanings are not as in dept as the Rider Waite deck, but they are easy to use. Each and every card depicts a story. From that story the meaning is then easy to tell. The meanings are not the same as the Rider Waite Deck.

I have enjoyed using these cards. The meanings are so far very spot on for me. I find it an easier deck to use than the Rider Waite deck (that’s the other deck that I own). I’m very glad that I bought them.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day - Part 3

Yes that’s right. Part 3. I was just barely pregnant when I had my first mother’s day.  And we had Nate last May for our first official Mother’s Day. Which makes this one three.  In some ways it was really, really nice.  My folks were here, Nate was acting and feeling seeminly normal, the weather was perfect.  In some ways, not so much – I had to work today to catch up with the stuff that was by the wayside when I was in the hospital with Nate.  I was also feeling really frustrated with things…i’m not going to get into it.

I have also just finished reading the following:

The review is listed here. Enjoy!

How was your Mother’s Day?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May: a Marvelous Month for Teen Fiction!

Oh boy.  There are so many fabulous books I’ve been aching to talk about, and their pub date is finally here!  From cutesy, girlie fiction to spooky, horrific fantasy, the month of May has a fabulous line-up of new releases for teens!

Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle

Oh Ms. Myracle, we just love you here in Austin!  From the 100% unique TTYL to the super-creepy Bliss, you can do no wrong!

And, teens of Austin, you will not be disappointed with Lauren’s latest, a throwback to hippiedom and a testament to sisters, Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks.  Taking place in the wealthiest neighborhood in Atlanta, this is the story of 60s-obsessed Carly and girly-girl Anna, two very different sisters with a very strong bond.  But things change when Anna starts high school with her brand-new (gasp!) boobs, and Anna is getting the attention that Carly feels she, as the older sister, deserves.  With everything suddenly in flux, how will Carly handle her new crush, her Dad’s weirndess, and drifting away from her BFF, Peyton?  Peace, Love, & Baby Ducks is a sweet, fun, true-to-life novel that not only rocks in a very modern way, but is a real throw-back to Judy Blume.  Sisters everywhere will love reading this book.

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

Kyra, a thirteen-year-old girl living with her father, three mothers, and 20 brothers and sisters among the Chosen Ones – a community of Believers living in isolation from the outside world.  Kyra isn’t terribly happy with her life, her only reprieve being her sneaky trips to the mobile library that drives past the commune once a week.  And there’s Joshua, the boy Kyra wishes she could choose.  But that is a job for the Prophet, and soon he declares Kyra is to be wed to her father’s brother – a cruel, 60-year-old man.  With the wedding on its way, Kyra knows she has to find a way out, even if it means abandoning her family.  This is not just another cult book, but a compelling story of love and loss, and of finding oneself against all odds, lyrically written with compassion and style.  The Chosen One is a book you won’t be able to put down, and Kyra’s story proves to be more than the morbid curiosity that led  you to pick up the book in the first place.

Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

With so many vampire and zombie books on the market, you’d think we didn’t need another.  But Lili St. Crow’s young adult debut is spooky, dark, and captivating – exactly what we need in a teen horror novel!  The first book in an upcoming series, Strange Angels follows Dru Anderson, a girl who has grown up aware of the sort of things most people choose to ignore: zombies, suckers, suckers, wulfen, and even ghosts.  But when Dru and her ghost-hunter Dad move to a new town and the unspeakable comes to pass, Dru is left feeling like a fish out of water.  Even her gift – what her grandmother called “the touch” – might not be enough to keep her afloat.  Flying in the face of the romantic vampire presented in Twilight, Strange Angels is not a novel for the weak-of-heart.  It is, however, a novel for someone who likes their zombies rotted, their ghosts angry, and their vampires killer.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Posted on May 8, 2009

Note: I am re-publishing professional articles with tags and within a special category “Engineering/ Research”

1.  “What is your job?”                                                                                                   

2.  “Sorry, you said Human Factors in Engineering?”                                                 

3.  “So, you want systems to fit people?”                                                                    

4.  “The rights of the beast of burden; like a donkey?”                                              

5.  “Who could afford to hire Human Factors engineers?”                            

6.  “In peace time, why and how often are Human Factors hired?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Web of Debt": The Inner Workings of the Monetary System by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, May 6, 2009

A review of Ellen Brown’s book

This is the first of several articles on Ellen Brown’s superb 2007 book titled “Web of Debt,” now updated in a December 2008 third edition. It tells “the shocking truth about our money system, (how it) trapped us in debt, and how we can break free.” Given today’s global economic crisis, it’s an appropriate time to review it and urge readers to digest the entire work, easily gotten through Amazon or Brown’s site. Her book is a remarkable achievement - in its scope, depth, and importance.

In the forward, banker/developer Reed Simpson said:

“I have been a banker for most of my career, and I can report that even most bankers (don’t know) what goes on behind (top echelon) closed doors….I am more familiar than most with the issues (Brown covered, and) still found it an eye-opener, a remarkable window into what is really going on….(Although many banks follow high ethical practices), corruption is also rampant, (especially) in the large money center banks, in one of which I worked.”

“Credible evidence (reveals) a world (banking) power elite intent on gaining absolute control over the planet and its natural resources, including its subservient human (ones).” Money is their “lifeblood,” and “fear (their) weapon.” Ill-used, they can “enslave nations and ensure perpetual wars and bondage.” Brown exposes the scheme and offers a solution.

Debt Bondage

What president Andrew Jackson called “a hydra-headed monster….” entraps entire nations in debt. Financial commentator Hans Schicht listed how:

– by making concentrated wealth invisible;

– “exercising control through leverage(d) mergers, takeovers” or other holdings “annexed to loans;” and

– using a minimum of insider front-men to exercise “tight personal management and control.”

Powerful bankers want to rule the world by creating and controlling money, the very lifeblood of world economies without which commerce would cease. Professor Henry Liu calls the monetary system a “cruel hoax” in that (except for government issued coins) “there is virtually no ‘real’ money in the system, only debts” - to bankers “for money they created with accounting entries….all done by a sleight of hand,” only possible because governments empowered them to do it.

The solution is simple but untaken. As the Constitution mandates, money-creation power must “be returned to the government and the people it represents.” Imagine the possibilities:

– the federal debt could be eliminated, at least a more manageable amount before it mushroomed to stratospheric levels;

– federal income taxes could as well; entirely for low and middle income people and at least substantially overall;

– “social programs could be expanded….without sparking runaway inflation;” and

– financial resources would be available to grow the nation economically and produce stable prosperity.

It’s not pie-in-the-sky. It happened successfully under Abraham Lincoln and early colonists. More on that below.

Brown’s book explains that:

– the Federal Reserve isn’t federal; it’s a private banking cartel owned by its major bank members in 12 Fed districts;

– except for coins, they “create” money called Federal Reserve notes, in violation of the Constitution under Article I, Section 8 that gives Congress alone the right “To coin (create) money (and) regulate the value thereof….;”

– “tangible currency (coins and paper money comprise) less than 3 percent of the US money supply;” the rest is in computer entries for loans;

– money that banks lend is “new money” that didn’t exist before;

– 30% of bank-created money “is invested for their own accounts;”

– banks once made productive loans for industrial development; today they’re “a giant betting machine” using countless trillions for high-risk casino-type operations - through devices like derivatives and securitization scams;

– since Andrew Jackson’s presidency (1829 - 1837), the federal debt hasn’t been paid, only the interest - to private bankers and other owners of US obligations;

– the 16th Amendment authorized Congress to levy an income tax; it was done “to coerce (the public) to pay interest to the banks on the federal debt;”

– the amount has mushroomed to about $500 billion annually and keeps rising;

– creating money doesn’t cause inflation; it’s “caused by banks expanding the money supply with loans;”

– developing nations’ inflation was caused “by global institutional speculators attacking local currencies and devaluing them on international markets;”

– it could happen in America or anywhere else just as easily; and

– escaping this trap is simple if Washington reclaims its money-issuing power; early colonists did it; so did Lincoln.

As long as bankers control our money, we’ll remain in a permanent “web of debt” and experience cycles of boom, bust, inflation, deflation, instability and crisis. Yet none of this has to be nor repeated and inevitable bubbles - created by design, not chance, to advantage empowered “moneychangers,” much like today with its fallout causing global havoc.

Prior to the Fed’s creation, the House of Morgan was dominant in contrast to the early colonists’ model. Operating out of Philadelphia, the nation’s first capital, it favored state-issued and loaned out money, collecting the interest, and “return(ing) it to the provincial government” in lieu of taxes.

Lincoln used the same system to finance the Civil War, after which he was assassinated and bankers reclaimed their money-issuing power. Wall Street’s “silent coup (was) the passage of the (1913) Federal Reserve Act,” the most destructive ever congressional legislation, thereafter extracting a huge toll amounting to permanent debt bondage with national wealth transference from the public to private bankers - with most people none the wiser.

From Gold to Federal Reserve Notes

After the 1862 Legal Tender Act was rescinded (the so-called Greenback law letting the government issue its own money), new legislation replaced it empowering bankers by making all money again interest-bearing. Here’s the problem. “As long as the money supply (is an interest-bearing) debt owed back to private bankers….the nation’s wealth (will) continue to be drained off into private vaults, leaving scarcity in its wake.”

Dollars should belong to everyone. Early colonists invented them as “a new form of paper currency backed by the ‘full faith and credit’ of the people.” Today, a private banking cartel issues them by “turning debt into money and demanding” due interest be paid.

Ever since, it’s controlled the nation and public by entrapment in permanent debt bondage, and they do it through the Federal Reserve that’s neither federal nor has reserves. It doesn’t have money. It creates it with  electronic entries, any amount at any time for any purpose, the main one being to enrich its owner banks.

This body is a power unto itself, secretive, unaccountable, and independent of congressional oversight or control. It’s a money-creating machine by turning debt into money, but only a small fraction of the total money supply. Individual commercial banks create most of it.

A 1960s Chicago Fed booklet (called Modern Money Mechanics) explained how - through “fractional reserve” alchemy. It states:

(Banks) do not really pay out loans from the money they receive as deposits. If they did this, no additional money would be created. What they do when they make loans is to accept promissory notes in exchange for credits to the borrowers’ transaction accounts.”

Money is created by “building up” deposits in the form of loans. They, in turn, become deposits, not the reverse. “This unique attribute of banking” goes back centuries, the idea being that paper receipts could be issued and loaned out for the same gold (in those days) many times over, so long as enough gold was held in “reserve” so depositors had access to their money. “This sleight of hand (became known) as ‘fractional reserve’ banking,” using money to create multiples more of it.

As for credit market debt, William Hummel (on the web site Money: What It Is, How It Works) explains that banks create only about 20% of it. The rest is by other non-bank financial institutions, including finance companies, pension and mutual funds, insurance companies, and securities dealers. They “recycle pre-existing funds, either by borrowing at a low interest rate and lending at a higher (one) or by pooling (investor) money and lending it to borrowers.” In other words, just like banks, “they borrow low and lend high, pocketing the ’spread’ as their profit.”

But banks do more than borrow. They also “lend the deposits they acquire….by crediting the borrower’s account with a new deposit.” Banks thus increase total bank deposits that grow the money supply. It amounts to a sleight of hand like “magically pull(ing) money out of an empty hat.”

The US “money supply is the federal debt and cannot exist without it. (To) keep money in the system, some major player has to incur substantial debt that never gets paid back; and this role is played by the federal government.” It’s why the nation’s debt can’t be repaid under a banker-controlled system. Today’s size and debt service compounds the problem, around double the amount Brown cited, growing exponentially to unimaginable levels.

Colonial Paper Money - Another Way Predating the Republic’s Birth

In 1691, three years before the Bank of England’s creation, Massachusetts became “the first local government to issue its own paper money….” in the form of a “bill of credit bond or IOU….to pay tomorrow on a debt incurred today.” This money “was backed by the full ‘faith and credit’ of the government.”

Other colonies then did the same, some as IOUs redeemable in gold or silver or as “legal tender” money to be legally accepted to pay debts. Cotton Mather, a famous New England minister, later redefined money - not as gold or silver, but as a credit: “the credit of the whole country.”

Benjamin Franklin so embraced the “new medium of exchange” that he’s called “the father of paper money,” then called “scrip.” It made the colonies independent of British banks and let them “finance their local governments without” taxation. It was done in two ways, and most colonies used both:

– direct issue “bills of credit” or “treasury notes;” essentially government-backed IOUs to be repaid by future taxes, with no interest owed bankers or foreign lenders; “they were just credits issued and sent into the economy on goods and services;” and

– a system of generating “revenue in the form of interest by taking on the lending functions of banks; a government loan office called a ‘land bank’ (issued) paper money and (loaned) it to residents (usually farmers) at low interest rates….the interest paid….went into the public coffers, funding the government;” it was the preferred way to assure a stable currency rather than by issuing “bills of credit.”

Pennsylvania did it best. It’s 1723-established loan office showed “it was possible for the government to issue new money (in lieu of) taxes without inflating prices.” For over 25 years, it collected none at all. The loan office provided adequate revenue, supplemented by liquor import duties. Throughout the period, prices remained stable.

Prior to this system, Pennsylvania lost “both business and residents (for) lack of available currency.” With it, its population grew and commerce prospered. The “secret was in not issuing too much, and in recycling the money back to the government in the form of principal and interest on government-issued loans.”

Colony-based British merchants and financiers objected strongly to Parliament. Enough so that in 1751, King George II banned new paper money issuance to force colonists to borrow it from UK bankers. In 1764, Franklin petitioned Parliament to lift the ban. In London, Bank of England directors asked him to explain colonial prosperity at a time Britain experienced rampant unemployment and poverty. It’s because Colonial Scrip was issued, he stated, “our own money” with no interest owed to anyone. He added:

“You do not have too many workers, you have too little money in circulation, and that which circulates, all bears the endless burden of unrepayable debt and usury.”

With banks loaning money into the economy, more was “owed back in principle and interest than was lent in the original loans (so) there was never enough in circulation to pay interest and still keep workers fully employed.” Unlike banks, government can both lend and spend money in circulation - enough to pay “interest due on the money it lent, (keep) the money supply in ‘proper proportion’ and (prevent) the ‘impossible contract’ problem (of having) more money owed back on loans than was created (from) the loans themselves.”

Franklin’s efforts notwithstanding, the Bank of England got Parliament to pass a Currency Act making it illegal for the colonies to issue their own money. It turned prosperity into poverty because the money supply was halved with not enough to pay for goods and services. According to Franklin:

“the poverty caused by the bad influence of the English bankers on the Parliament” got colonists to hate the British enough to spark the Revolutionary War. “The colonies would gladly have borne the little tax on tea and other matters (if) England (hadn’t taken their money), which created unemployment and dissatisfaction.” So much that outraged people again issued their own money in spite of the ban. As a result, they successfully financed a war against a major power - with almost no hard currency and no taxation. Thomas Paine called it the Revolution’s “corner stone.”

However, British bankers responded by attacking its “competitor’s currency,” the Continental, driving down its value by flooding the colonies with counterfeit scrip. It was “battered but remained stable.” Where Britain failed, speculators succeeded - “mostly northeastern bankers, stockbrokers and businessmen, who bought up the revolutionary currency at a fraction of its value after convincing people it would be worthless after the war.” It had “to compete with states’ paper notes and British bankers’ gold and silver coins….The problem might have been avoided by making the Continental the sole official currency, but the Continental Congress (didn’t have) the power to enforce” such an order - with no courts, police or authority to collect taxes “to redeem the notes or contract the money supply.”

Having just rebelled against British taxation, colonists weren’t about to let Congress tax them. Speculators took advantage and traded Continentals at discounts enough to make them worthless and give rise to the expression “not worth a Continental.”

How the Government Was Persuaded to Borrow Its Own Money

John Adams once said: “there are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.” The latter method is stealth enough so people don’t know what’s happening and submit to their own bondage. Openly, nothing seems changed, yet a whole new system becomes master “in the form of debts and taxes” that people think are for their own good, not tribute to their captors. That’s today’s America writ large.

After the Revolutionary War, “British bankers and their Wall Street vassals” pulled it off by acquiring a controlling interest in the new United States Bank. It discredited paper scrip through rampant Continental counterfeiting and so disillusioned the Founders that they omitted mentioning paper money in the Constitution. Congress was given power to “coin money (and) regulate the value thereof, (and) to borrow money on the credit of the United States….” It left enough wiggle room for bankers to exploit to their advantage - but only because Congress and the president let them.

Alexander Hamilton bears much blame, the nation’s first Treasury Secretary and Tim Geithner of his day (1789 - 1795). He argued that America needed a monetary system independent of foreign control, and that required a federal central bank - to handle war debts and create a standard form of currency. In 1791, it was created, hailed at the time as a “brilliant solution to the nation’s economic straits, one that disposed of an oppressive national debt, stabilized the economy, funded the government’s budget, and created confidence in the new paper dollars….It got the country up and running, but left the bank largely in private hands” - to be manipulated for private gain, much like today. Worse still, “the government ended up in debt for money it could have generated itself.”

Instead, it had to pay interest on its own money in lieu of creating it interest free. Today, Hamilton is acclaimed as a model Treasury Secretary. For Jefferson, he was a “diabolical schemer, a British stooge pursuing a political agenda for his own ends.” He modeled the Bank of the United States on the Bank of England against which colonists rebelled. It so angered Jefferson that he told Washington he was a traitor. It fostered a bitter feud between them with Jefferson ultimately prevailing.

Hamilton’s Federalist Party disappeared after 1820 while Jefferson and Madison’s Democratic-Republicans became the forerunner of today’s Democrats after the party split into two factions, the Whigs no longer in existence and Jacksonians that by 1844 officially became the Democratic Party. Shamefully they veered far from Jacksonian and Jeffersonian principles.

For his part, Hamilton wasn’t entirely bad. He stabilized the new economy and got the country on its feet. He restored the nation’s credit, established a national currency, and made it economically independent. However, his legacy has a dark side - a “privileged class of financial middlemen (henceforth able) to siphon off a perpetual tribute in the form of interest.” He delivered money power into private hands, “subservient to an elite class of oligarchical financiers,” the same Wall Street types today holding the entire nation hostage - in permanent debt bondage.

From Abundance to Debt

Charging excessive interest is called “usury,” but originally it meant charging anything for the use of money. The Christian Bible banned it, and the Catholic Church enforced anti-usury laws through the end of the Middle Ages.

Old Testament scripture was more lenient, prohibiting it only between “brothers.” Charging it to foreigners was allowed and encouraged, which is why Jews unfairly were called “moneychangers.” They, like others, suffered greatly from money-lending schemes. For centuries, they were “persecuted for the profiteering of a few,” then scapegoated to divert attention from the real offenders.

Fiat money is legal tender by government decree - a simple tally representing units of value to be traded for goods and services. Paper money was invented in 9th century Mandarin China and successfully used to fund its long and prosperous empire. The same was true in medieval England. The tally system worked well for over five centuries before banker-controlled paper money began demanding payment in the form of interest.

History portrays the Middle Ages as backward, impoverishing, and a form of economic enslavement only the Industrial Revolution changed. In fact, the era was entirely different, characterized by 19th century historian Thorold Rogers as a time when “a labourer could provide all the necessities for his family for a year by working 14 weeks,” leaving nearly nine discretionary months to work for himself, study, fish, travel, or do what he pleased, something today’s overworked, over-stressed, underpaid workers can’t imagine.

Some attribute Middle Age prosperity to the absence of usurious lending. Instead of paying tribute in the form of interest, “people relied largely on interest-free tallies.” They avoided depressions and inflation since the supply and demand for goods and services grew in proportion to each other, thus holding prices stable. “The tally system provided an organic form of money that expanded naturally as trade (did) and contracted (the same way) as taxes were paid.”

No bankers set interest rates or manipulated markets to their advantage. The tally system kept Britain stable and thriving until the mid-17th century, “when Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1658)….needed money to fund a revolt against the Tudor monarchy.”

The Moneylenders Take Over England

In the 19th century, the Rothchild banking family’s Nathan Rothchild said it well:

“I care not what puppet (sits on) the throne of England to rule the Empire on which the sun never sets. The man who controls Britain’s money supply controls the British empire, and I (when he ran the Bank of England) control the British money supply.”

Centuries early, moneylender power was absent. But after the 1666 Coinage Act, money-issuing authority, once the sole right of kings, was transferred into private hands. “Bankers now had the power to cause inflations and depressions at will by issuing or withholding their gold coins.”

King William III (1672 - 1702), a Dutch aristocrat, financed his war against France by borrowing 1.2 million pounds in gold in a secret transaction with moneylenders, the arrangement being a permanent loan on which debt would be serviced and its principle never repaid. It came with other strings as well:

– lenders got a charter to establish the Bank of England (in 1694) with monopoly power to issue banknotes as national paper currency;

– it created them out of nothing, with only a fraction of them as reserves;

– loans to the government were to be backed by government IOUs to serve as reserves for creating additional loans to private borrowers; and

– lenders could consolidate the national debt on their government loan to secure payment through people-extracted taxes.

It was a prescription for huge profits and “substantial political leverage. The Bank’s charter gave the force of law to the ‘fractional reserve’ banking scheme that put control of the country’s money” in private hands. It let the Bank of England create money out of nothing and charge interest for loans to the government and others - the same practice central banks now employ.

For the next century, banknotes and tallies circulated interchangeably even though they weren’t a compatible means of exchange. Banker money expanded when “credit expanded and contracted when loans were canceled or ‘called,’ producing cycles of ‘tight’ money and depression alternating with ‘easy’ money and inflation.” In contrast, tallies were permanent, stable, fixed money, making banknotes look bad so they had to go.

For another reason as well - because of King William’s disputed throne and fear if he were deposed, moneylenders again might be banned. They used their influence to legalize banknotes as the money of the realm called “funded” debt with tallies referred to as “unfunded,” what historians see as the beginning of a “Financial Revolution.” In the end, “tallies met the same fate as witches - death by fire.”

They were money of the people competing with moneylending bankers. After 1834 monetary reform, “tally sticks went up in flames in a huge bonfire started in a House of Lords stove.” Ironically, it got out of control and burned down Westminster Palace and both Houses of Parliament, symbolically ending “an equitable era of trade (by transferring power) from the government to the” central bank.

Henceforth, private bankers kept government in debt, never demanding the return of principle, and profiting by extracting interest, a very lucrative system always paying off “like a slot machine” rigged to benefit its operators. It became the basis for modern central banking, lending its “own notes (printed paper money), which the government swaps for bonds (its promises to pay) and circulates as a national currency.”

Government debt is never repaid. It’s continually rolled over and serviced, today with no gold in reserve to back it. Though gone, tallies left their mark. The word “stock” comes from the tally stick. Much of the original Bank of England stock was bought with these sticks. In addition, stock issuance began during the Middle Ages as a way to finance businesses when no interest-bearing loans were allowed.

In America, “usury banks fought for control for two centuries before” getting it under the 1913 Federal Reserve Act. An issue that once “defined American politics,” today is no longer a topic for debate. It’s about time it was reopened.

Jefferson and Jackson Sound the Alarm

Moneylenders conquered Britain, then aimed to entrap America - by provoking “a series of wars. British financiers funded the opposition to the American War for Independence, the War of 1812, and both sides of the American Civil War.” They caused inflation, heavy government debt, the chartering of the Bank of the United States to fund it, thus giving private interests the power to create money.

Jefferson opposed the first US Bank, Jackson the second, and both for similar reasons:

– distrust of profiteers controlling the nation’s money; and

– concern about the nation’s banking system falling into foreign hands.

Jefferson got Congress to refuse to renew the first US Bank charter in 1811 and learned on liquidation that two-thirds of its owners were foreigners, mostly English and Dutch and none more influential than the Rothschilds. Later, Madison signed a 20-year charter. However, when Congress renewed it, Jackson vetoed it.

The Powerful Rothschild Family

The House of Rothschild was British in name only. In the mid-18th century, it was founded in Frankfort, Germany by Mayer Amschel Bauer, who changed his name to Rothschild, fathered 10 children, and sent his five sons to open branch banks in major European capitals. Nathan was the most astute and went to London. “Over the course of the nineteenth century, NM Rothschild would become the biggest bank in the world, and the five brothers would come to control most of the foreign-loan business of Europe.”

Belatedly, Jefferson caught on to the scheme - that “private debt masquerading as paper money….owed to bankers” placed the nation in bondage. In his words, “deliver(ing) itself bound hand and foot to bold and bankrupt adventurers and bankers….” Jefferson’s idea for a national bank was a wholly government-owned one issuing its own credit without having to borrow it from private interests.

Jackson believed the same thing in calling the Bank of the United States “a hydra-headed monster.” When the bank charter was renewed, he promptly vetoed it, yet understood that the battle was just beginning. “The hydra of corruption is only scotched, not dead,” he said.

He was right. The Bank’s second president, Nicolas Biddle, retaliated “by sharply contracting the money supply. Old loans were called in and new ones refused. A financial panic ensued, followed by a deep economic depression.” However, Biddle’s victory was short-lived. In April 1834, the House rejected re-chartering the Bank, then January 1835 became Jackson’s “finest hour.”

He did something never done before or since. He paid off the first installment of the national debt, then reduced it to zero and accumulated a surplus. In 1836, the Bank’s charter expired. Biddle was arrested and charged with fraud. He was tried and acquitted but spent the rest of his life in litigation over what he’d done. “Jackson had beaten the Bank.” Imagine today if Obama defeated the Fed and its Wall Street puppeteers instead of embracing them with limitless riches.

Lincoln Foils the Bankers and Pays with His Life

Like Jackson, Lincoln faced assassination attempts, before even being inaugurated. “He had to deal with treason, insurrection, and national bankruptcy” during his first days in office. Considering the powerful forces against him, his achievements were all the more remarkable:

– he built the world’s largest army;

– “smashed the British-financed insurrection,”

– took the first steps to abolish slavery; it became official on December 6, 1865 when the 13th Amendment was ratified, eight months after Lincoln was assassinated;

– during and after his tenure, the country became “the greatest industrial giant” in the world;

– “the steel industry was launched; a continental railroad system was created; the Department of Agriculture was established; a new era of farm machinery and cheap tools was promoted;”

– the Land Grant College system established free higher education;

– the Homestead Act gave settlers ownership rights and encouraged new land development;

– government supported all branches of science;

– “standardization and mass production was promoted worldwide;”

– labor productivity increased by 50 - 75%; and

– still more was accomplished “with a Treasury that was completely broke and a Congress that hadn’t been paid” as a result.

It was because the government issued its own money. “National control was reestablished over banking, and the economy was jump-started with a 600 percent increase in government spending and cheap credit directed at production.” Roosevelt did the same thing with borrowed money. Lincoln did it with United States Notes called Greenbacks. They financed the war, paid the troops, spurred the nation’s growth, and did what hasn’t been done since - let the government print its own money, free from banker-controlled debt slavery, the very system strangling us today the way Lincoln feared would happen.

His advisor was Henry Carey, a man historian Vernon Parrington called “our first professional economist.” Lincoln endorsed his prescription:

– “government regulation of banking and credit to deter speculation and encourage economic development;”

– its support for science, public education and national infrastructure development;

– “regulation of privately-held infrastructure to ensure it met the nation’s needs;”

– government-sponsored railroads and “scientific and other aid to small farmers;”

– “taxation and tariffs to protect and promote productive domestic activity;” and

– “rejection of class wars, exploitation and slavery, physical or economic, in favor of a ‘Harmony of Interests’ between capital and labor.”

Leaders like Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln are sorely missed, but for Lincoln it was costly.

He Loses the Battle with “the Masters of European Finance”

German Chancellor Otto von Bismark (1815 - 1898) called them that in explaining how they engineered the “rupture between the North and the South” to use it to their advantage, then later wrote in 1876:

“The Government and the nation escaped the plots of the foreign bankers. They understood at once that the United States would escape their grip. The death of Lincoln was resolved upon.” The last Civil War battle ended on May 13, 1865. Lincoln was assassinated on April 15.

European bankers tried but failed to trap him “with usurious war loans,” at 24 - 36% interest had he agreed. Using government-issued Greenbacks shut them out entirely, so they determined to fight back - eliminate the thorn, then get banker-friendly legislation passed, achieved through the National Bank Act reversing the Greenback Law. It was “only a compromise with bankers, (but) buried in the fine print,” they got what they wanted.

Although the Controller of the Currency got to issue new national banknotes, it was just a formality. In fact, the new law “authorized the bankers to issue and lend their own paper money.” They “deposited” bonds with the Treasury, but owned them so “immediately got their money back in the form of their own banknotes.” It was an exclusive franchise to control the nation’s money forcing government back into debt bondage where it never had to be in the first place. A whole series of private banks were then chartered, all empowered to create money in lieu of debt free Greenbacks.

One other president confronted bankers and paid dearly as well - James Garfield. In 1881, he charged:

“Whoever controls the volume of money in any country is absolute master of all industry and commerce….And when you realize that the entire system is very easily controlled, one way or another, by a few powerful men at the top, you will not have to be told how periods of inflation and depression originate.”

Garfield took office on March 4, 1881. On July 2, he was shot. He survived the next two and half months, then died on September 19. It was a time of depression, mass unemployment, poverty, and starvation with no safety net protections. “The country was facing poverty amidst plenty,” because bankers controlled money and kept too little of it in circulation - an avoidable problem if government printed its own.

Gold v. Inflation - Debunking Common Fallacies

The classical “quantity theory of money” holds that “too much money chasing too few goods” causes inflation, excess demand over supply forcing up prices. The counter argument is that if paper money is tied to gold, an inflation-free stable money supply will result. Another fallacy is that adding money (demand) raises prices only if supply remains fixed.

In fact, if new money creates new goods and services, prices stay stable. For thousands of years, the Chinese kept prices of its products low in spite of their money supply being “flooded with the world’s gold and silver, and now with the world’s dollars….to pay for China’s cheap products.”

What’s important is not what money consists of but who creates it. “Whether the medium of exchange (is) gold or paper or numbers in a ledger,” when created by and owed to private lenders with interest, “more money would always be owed back than was created…spiraling the economy into perpetual debt….whether the money takes the form of gold or paper or accounting entries.”

Today’s popularism is associated with the political left. However, 19th century Populists saw “a darker, more malevolent force….private money power and the corporations it had spawned, which was threatening to take over the government unless the people intervened.”

Lincoln also feared it saying:

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few and the Republic is destroyed.”

Today’s America is the reality he feared. A tiny elite own the vast majority of the nation’s wealth in the form of stocks, bonds, real estate, natural resources, business assets and other investments. In contrast, 90% of Americans have little or no net worth. Of all developed nations, concentrated wealth and inequality extremes are greatest here with powerful bankers sitting atop the pyramid, now more than ever with their new riches extracted from public tax dollars and Fed-created money.

A follow-up article will discuss how “bankers capture(d) the money machine.”

Ellen Brown developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her earlier books focused on the pharmaceutical cartel that gets its power from “the money trust.” Her eleven books include Forbidden Medicine, Nature’s Pharmacy (co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker), and The Key to Ultimate Health (co-authored with Dr. Richard Hansen).


Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2009

The url address of this article is:


Do we really want the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) issuing our global currency? by Ellen Brown

Revive Lincoln’s Monetary Policy: An Open Letter To President Obama by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown


The Economy Sucks and or Collapse 2


order here

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

IR Sci-fi/Fantasy

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Well, yet another beloved series has come to an end (Harry Potter, Artemis Fowl [supposedly, though I'm holding out for more there], and now Percy Jackson).* It came out yesterday and I read it in one sitting (while my parents [unsuccessfully] wrestled with my kitchen sink - raise your hand if you’re a princess!). And, lo, it was awesome.

It’s time for the final showdown between Percy Jackson (aided by the rest some of the campers from Camp Half Blood) and Luke/Kronos. At stake? Manhattan. Oh, and Mount Olympus (on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building).

Big things happen - there are betrayals and deaths and real consequences to people’s choices and actions and triumphs and losses…and humor, too - no one does slapstick and wry observations like my Percy! I don’t want to give too much away, so I will just say that I was entirely satisfied with this ending (unlike Harry Potter’s stupid epilogue - yeah, I’m still bitter about that).

I’m sad to see Percy’s story come to an end. Riordan’s obviously planning a sequel to the Percy Jackson series if the prophecy at the end is any hint, but whether or not it’ll feature Percy and Co. again, I haven’t heard yet. Part of me hopes so because I’d like to see Percy and Annabeth and Grover and, grudgingly, Rachel, again, but Percy’s story has a good ending to it as it stands, so I’m not sure he needs more story.

My rating: A+

*So now I’m just looking forward to Skulduggery Pleasant (August 25, baby, I’ve already got it in Edward’s calendar - but what the hell is this?! Is this new?! Is this something I need?! Okay, no, I’m calming down, I think it’s just the paperback version of Skulduggery Pleasant, though why it’s called Scepter of the Ancients is beyond me - subterfuge and trickery, that’s what it is!). He’s all I’ve got left!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Originally published 1847

Scholastic, 20th printing, 1962

501 pages

Genre: Gothic romance, literature

Synopsis: Jane Eyre is a penniless dependent in her Aunt Reed’s home. She is tormented by her cousins, disliked by her aunt, and barely tolerated by the servants, and Jane Eyre is all of ten years old. Through the auspices of a sympathetic outsider, Jane is sent to the Lowood School, a charitable institution for poor girls. Though the school is at first nearly intolerable, a typhus epidemic and subsequent student deaths soon bring to light the maltreatment suffered by the students, ushering in a regime change for the better. Jane spends six years at Lowood as a student, and teaches there another two years before deciding to make her own way in the world.

Upon advertising for a position as governess to young children, she is invited by a Mrs Fairfax to teach at one Thornfield. The situation proves pleasant; Jane has but one student, a French dancer’s by-blow, and Mrs Fairfax is good company. Soon, however, Thornfield’s master Mr Rochester returns, and the sardonic and brooding Byronic hero soon enthralls Jane. Fortunately for her, our heroine, who he often compares to fairyfolk, similarly enchants Mr Rochester. All seems to be going well despite Jane’s misgivings, when Mr Rochester dark secret is uncovered, and Jane flees alone and friendless into the world.

At death’s door from exposure and starvation, a family of siblings, the Riverses, a brother and two sisters takes in Jane. After being nursed back to health, St John Rivers finds her a place teaching a small local school, and Jane begins settling into a quiet life of obscure usefulness. Fortune intervenes, and Jane’s longlost uncle Eyre dies in faraway Madeira, leaving her a large inheritance. This revelation falls in hand with the disclosure that the Riverses are also relatives, being the offspring of her father’s sister. Ecstatic at the prospect of being part of a family for the first time ever, Jane shares out her fortune with the Riverses, and endeavors to live peacefully with them.

St John, admiring Jane’s fortitude and intelligence, demands that she marry him, and accompany him to India as a missionary. She is nearly overwhelmed by the force of his personality, and wishes to please him, but the prospect of a loveless marriage appalls her. She insists that she can only travel with him as a sister, and as they argue, she feels an urgent call to her from a distant place. Feeling that it must be Mr Rochester, of whom she has heard nothing since her leave-taking, Jane hurries to Thornfield, only to find it in ruins. She fears the worst, but soon learns that he now resides as a small manor called Ferndean, though he is now grievously injured. Upon her arrival, Jane finds Mr Rochester as devoted to her as ever, though more so now that their positions are reversed and he is a dependent, while her independent means for the first time match her personality. And, they marry.

I haven’t been writing full synopses for fear of spoiling a book for some, but I felt that Jane Eyre has been around so long, and must be familiar to so many, that there is little reason to not know the story. By now it really is a part of our cultural fabric, being one of the most popular romantic stories in English language literature (fourth in a 2007 British survey; Wuthering Heights came in first). It is also for many one of the first novels to come to mind when thinking of a Gothic novel, and has inspired many other writers, even spawning related novels such as Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea and Lin Haire-Sargeant’s H (which is also related to Wuthering Heights).

I first read Jane Eyre probably in about sixth or seventh grade, I think the former due to a teacher’s stamp in it, and have reread it a dozen times since. It appealed to me far more than Wuthering Heights, which I initially disliked, loathing the hateful protagonist lovers. Jane however, is an intelligent girl who rebels against injustice, whether real or perceived (at Gateshead and Lowood), much as any young child would like envision themselves doing. As a character, she sometimes seems a bit stiff or odd, even cold, but that is not simply a modern perception, for she is remarked upon as such at several points in the novel. It is more that she is very self-contained, having learned young to keep herself from being vulnerable to others due to her upbringing. There are times when she is openly affectionate, and they are more to be treasured for her reserve. Particularly appealing is Jane’s own strong sense of identity which will not allow her to completely bend to another’s will, though she is susceptible to such influence, as in the cases of Rochester and St John Rivers, both of whom attempt to impose their own vision of a wife or woman onto Jane. She resists this, wishing to remain her own person, to keep herself, rather than to completely subjugate herself to Rivers’ ideal or Rochester’s fantasy. I think it is that strength of character and purpose that continues to endear Jane to readers even a century and a half later.

“I wish I had only offered you a sovereign instead of ten pounds. Give me back nine pounds, Jane; I have a use for it.”

“And so have I, sir,” I returned, putting my hands and my purse behind me. “I could not spare the money on any account.”

“Little niggard!” said he, “refusing me a pecuniary request! Give me five pounds, Jane.”

“Not five shillings, sir; nor five pence.”

“Just let me look at the cash.”

“No, sir; you are not to be trusted.”

28 April - 1 May

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thank Goodness for Bookstores

My weekend flew by. It was all about errands. I hit the super market, Borders, and a few other stops. I don’t know about you, but every time I go to a bookstore I get lost for hours. I was in Borders for three hours today and it felt like a half an hour. I start off in the Literature section. I gaze at my favorite classic titles lovingly. Lolita, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare, Poe, Emerson, Whitman, and Lewis Carroll…just to name a few. Then I allow my eyes to graze over new titles and covers I’ve never seen and when one (or a few) catches my eye, my fingers strum through the pages. And more often than not, I add it to my basket. It finds a new home on my coffee table for a couple weeks until I finish it then it accepts it’s permanent home on my bookcase until I chose to lend it out to friends or reread it. 

From the Literature section I then stroll over to the Reference section to find the writer’s instructional books. I’ll grab one or two and then head over to the magazine section. Chose a few favorite literary journals and make my way to the cafe. Order my favorite beverage then find the biggest leather chair I can and get lost in the lines of my book choices. Sometimes I purchase the mags but mostly (to save a few bucks) I’ll write down the website, if I don’t already know it, and favorite the web page to reference in the future. Same goes for the writing books. I do purchase some but mostly I’ll jot things down and add them to my writing journals.

And before I know it….my afternoon is shot. Honestly I enjoy my bookstore time and I prefer to go alone. It’s a refuel for my soul. It’s important to renew yourself weekly I think. Whether it’s a steaming hot bath with a tall glass of red wine or a couple hours at a bookstore, finding yourself  BY YOURSELF is revitalizing. Try it sometime.

Friday, May 1, 2009

LASR Reviews Winter of the Heart

LASR (Long and Short Reviews) gives WINTER OF THE HEART a four and half book review. It’s also up for ‘best book of the week’, so if you have time check in at tomorrow (Saturday May 2, 2009) and vote for it. Thanks, Elizabeth

“This touching historical takes readers on an emotional journey that is hard to forget as a woman in an abusive relationship seeks to make a better life for herself and finds a love she never expected…” Read more -